The changing of the colors: heralding our transition into the cooler months of hot ciders, cozy blankets, candles, and baked goods. The reds, golds, oranges, and yellows of autumn are an annual treat many chase up and down the East and West Coasts just to make the vibrant hues last.
That is the eye candy you can capture in your apple displays, so long as you have the colors—the reds, the greens, and the golden yellows.
I can’t help but think of Opal® apples, bright as a turning leaf yet historic in their natural resistance to turning themselves, when I consider this time of year. With Opal season upon us—and the sweet golden fruit on my mind—I thought I knew all there was to know about the naturally non-browning offering. I was wrong.
FirstFruits Farms is the sole proprietor of this singular variety, and everything that goes into its promotion—from purpose-driven initiatives to the consumer following expanding around it—promises to solidify Opal’s place in the apple sector as strongly as yellow hues are in the colors of autumn.
So spread out a cozy blanket, sip a hot beverage, and listen with me as Emily Autrey, Marketing Manager of FirstFruits Farms, explains how Opal is “More Than An Apple.”
Emily Autrey, Marketing Manager, FirstFruits Farms: We continue to see high levels of engagement with the brand online and in-store. Shoppers love Opal apples. Not only does the bright golden yellow make apple merchandising and displays fun, exciting, and eye-catching, but it can be useful for color breaks in the sea of red and bi-colored apples. It’s hard to believe Opal has been on the United States market since 2010, but the reminder can be found in how it has gained loyal fans since that launch.
Of the retailers who report to Nielsen across the country, conventional Opal is the No. 4 bulk club variety, accounting for 6 percent of sales, and the No. 3 pack club variety, capturing 11 percent of sales. Organic Opal is the No. 2 bulk club variety, capturing 38 percent of sales, and the No. 7 pack club variety of those reports.
EA: Since it debuted in 2010, Opal has built an impactful and provocative brand that consumers love. For example, Opal is the apple that gives back: Every time consumers purchase Opal, they are supporting the Youth Make A Difference initiative, through which grants are awarded to youth-led organizations across the country. We also have National Opal® Apple Day on December 9, a prime time for apple buying and sampling events.
Consumers who have not tried Opals are always pleasantly surprised to learn they are naturally non-browning. Together, the high-flavor, crisp eating experience, and extended freshness drive shoppers to purchase. Not to mention, Opal is extremely versatile across the ways you can eat or prepare them.
“Not only does the bright golden yellow make apple merchandising and displays fun, exciting, and eye-catching, but it can be useful for color breaks in the sea of red and bi-colored apples.”
Emily Autrey, Marketing Manager, FirstFruits Farms
EA: We say this for several reasons. In addition to the difference it is making for youth leaders across the country, Opal represents a lifestyle that many people can relate to, one that emphasizes health, playfulness, versatility, and flavor. Opal fits in with the whole family, from busy parents to school kids of all ages, and everyone else around the dinner table. It is a fresh snack that is naturally non-browning, and a healthy ingredient that fits well into numerous recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert.
EA: The fact that Opal is a high-flavor club variety means more margin at the register to drive sales. Opal can be marketed as a premium apple that is quickly becoming a staple for many shoppers, and retailers can maximize this by pushing seasonal promotional activity.
Grocers are often differentiated in the minds of consumers because of their produce departments. Opal apples enhance their produce department and draw the eye of the shopper, and that is magnified through smart merchandising and prominent displays. When buyers partner with Opal, we provide robust marketing support and category management services to make their lives easier. FirstFruits is a vertically integrated one-stop shop; when buyers partner with us, not only are they able to access Opal apples, but we also have a full manifest for their convenience. We are a single-grower system, giving us the highest degree of control over the quality of our fruit, a practice unmatched in the industry.
“Consumers who have not tried Opals are always pleasantly surprised to learn they are naturally non-browning. Together, the high-flavor, crisp eating experience, and extended freshness drive shoppers to purchase.”
EA: Opal has been a part of a few pop culture moments that I always have fun sharing. In 2015, Opal apples were sent to the International Space Station for NASA astronauts to enjoy as nutritious snacks; in 2020, Rachael Ray cooked up several Opal apple recipes on her cooking show; and, in 2021, celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck featured Opal apple spring rolls on the menu for Paris Hilton’s wedding.
The pattern here is this is a standout variety which has only furthered some memorable moments in current events, both fun and historic. Such as the fact Opal was the first club variety in the nation to be verified by The Non-GMO Project, doubling down on the natural aspect of its non-browning. Without the need for lemon juice or even salt water to save pre-sliced apples, I don’t think it can be emphasized enough how Opal apples are THE apple for prepping ahead. They are lunchbox heroes—13 years running!
Opal season is upon us, with many exciting plans for retailers as the colors in nature shift. With this proprietary variety available October through May, it’s fair to say that the chilled months should have you convincing consumers to see the Opal of their eye as you bring the passion for fall to the apple department as well.